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Patterson v. Willard

United States District Court, S.D. Indiana, Terre Haute Division

January 17, 2017

DAVID PATTERSON, Plaintiff,
v.
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Defendant.

          ENTRY DENYING DEFENDANT'S MOTION FOR PARTIAL SUMMARY JUDGMENT AND DIRECTING FURTHER PROCEEDINGS

          LARRY J. McKINNEY, JUDGE

         For the reasons explained in this Entry, the defendant's motion for partial summary judgment [dkt. 58] is denied.

         I.

         Background

         Plaintiff David Patterson is a federal inmate currently incarcerated at the Devens Federal Medical Center, but at all times relevant to this action was in custody at the United States Penitentiary in Terre Haute, Indiana (“USP-TH”). Mr. Patterson brings five claims against the United States pursuant to the Federal Tort Claims Act (the “FTCA”) for injuries he suffered from multiple suicide attempts that occurred at USP-TH in late 2012. See 28 U.S.C. § 1346(b) and 28 U.S.C. § 2671, et seq. In his first four claims, Mr. Patterson contends that staff at USP-TH were negligent by failing to adequately treat his underlying conditions and by failing to protect him from suicide attempts. His fifth claim regards an alleged instance of excessive force by USP-TH staff.

         Defendant United States moves for summary judgment only as to the first four of Mr. Patterson's claims. Moreover, the United States does not move for summary judgment on the entirety of these claims, but only insofar as they are predicated on negligent psychiatric treatment.

         II.

         Summary Judgment Standard

         Summary judgment is appropriate when the movant shows that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and that the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). A “material fact” is one that “might affect the outcome of the suit.” Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986). To survive a motion for summary judgment, the non-moving party must set forth specific, admissible evidence showing that there is a material issue for trial. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986). The Court views the record in the light most favorable to the non-moving party and draws all reasonable inferences in that party's favor. Darst v. Interstate Brands Corp., 512 F.3d 903, 907 (7th Cir. 2008). It cannot weigh evidence or make credibility determinations on summary judgment because those tasks are left to the fact-finder. O'Leary v. Accretive Health, Inc., 657 F.3d 625, 630 (7th Cir. 2011).

         A dispute about a material fact is genuine only “if the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party.” Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248. If no reasonable jury could find for the non-moving party, then there is no “genuine” dispute. Scott v. Harris, 550 U.S. 372, 380 (2007).

         III. Discussion

         A. Undisputed Facts

         The following facts are undisputed or, if disputed, taken in the light most favorable to Mr. Patterson for purposes of this motion. The facts are organized according to the four claims at issue in the United States' motion and the events preceding each of those claims.

         Mr. Patterson was incarcerated at the United States Penitentiary in Allenwood, Pennsylvania (“USP Allenwood”) before he was transferred to USP-TH. While at USP Allenwood, Mr. Patterson had expressed suicidal thoughts and had intermittently been placed on suicide watch. He also engaged in various forms of self-harm and had made a noose on multiple occasions. Mr. Patterson was transferred from USP Allenwood to USP-TH in September 2012.

         1.Claim 1 - Attempted Hanging on October 22, 2012

         On October 15, 2012, Mr. Patterson complained to Officer Weyrauch that he was experiencing suicidal thoughts and showed Officer Weyrauch a noose he had made. He was left alone for thirty minutes and was attempting to hang himself when USP-TH staff approached his cell. Mr. Patterson agreed to hand over the noose, but he felt that his suicidal thoughts were not taken seriously. Mr. Patterson demanded a restart of the ...


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